Distance Learning with a 1:1 Aide or Para | Tips for Success

Online Learning with a 1:1 Aide

This post is only a few months old, but it already needs updating. At the time of the original publication, 1:1 learning just couldn’t be done. Most of us were in strict quarantine or lockdown and it wasn’t considered ‘reasonable’ to ask an aide to come to your home. But, what a difference a few months make.

At this point, it doesn’t matter how we got here. Or, how long we’re going to be here. What matters is that we have an action plan, something to do to help our kids and ourselves. For the purposes of this post, this assumes that your child already has a 1:1 aide and that your school/state is not in strict lockdown. (and actually, as I type this, I don’t think that any of the 50 states are in lockdown)

distance learning with aide para 1

I already did a post about FAPE during this crisis and another post about monitoring regression. If you need that information, you can find it there. This also assumes that it would not be against government mandates (lockdowns) to have someone in your home. I’m going to go through a few different scenarios about what to expect and some options.

Child has 1:1 but District is Doing Remote/Virtual Learning

First, you have to decide your own personal comfort level with this. Are you comfortable having this person in your home? What if they call out sick, what is the plan? Who are they around when not at work? It’s not unreasonable to ask an aide or para to come to your home every day instead of a school building. The response that most parents have been getting in this ask is “well, we can’t do that because of liability reasons.”

Um, I call bs on that. An employer’s insurance policy rarely only covers them if they are working in one specific location. As long as they are doing the designated job they were hired to do (IE not coming to babysit or clean your house) they will be covered under 99.9% of most insurance policies. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be covered on field trips. And they do go on field trips. If you are hit with that, say, “Great, can you direct me to who I can speak with about this? Because I’ve never heard of an insurance policy that only covers someone in one location. I’m interested to see the wording, thanks.” Or, call your homeowner’s carrier and ask them if your homeowners policy would cover them and send it over to the district. Honestly, I wish more teams would not knee-jerk-react to “can’t!” instead of “Yes, we can.”

A Virtual 1:1 Aide or Para

Well, will this work for your child? Is the aide/para able to perform that prescribed duties over Zoom? Can a different option be set up? Like maybe your child checks in with the aide once a day on zoom to go over assignments, etc.? Brainstorm if this could work.

Your Child has a Shared Aide/Para

This scenario will only work if all the students can use an online aide or para. So, you’re going to have to make the case that with distance learning, the child’s needs have changed, so the aide/para has to change for the duration of the distance learning. Again, this assumes that you are willing to have someone in your home.

Getting this on your IEP

The steps for this remain the same.

  1. Do a written request to the team to meet and discuss.
  2. Meet and Discuss.
  3. Do your after-meeting IEP letter.
  4. Ask for PWN.

What to do at Home When In-Person Support is not an Option

This part of the post dates back to March. I’m leaving it here in case it becomes relevant again.

First, most providers feel just as despondent as you do. The following tips are from my son’s former BCBA. I interviewed her in March and it’s still relevant today.

Also, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, or throw out an “I told you so” but I am always browbeating parents into getting everything clearly defined in the IEP. If you know exactly what your child’s aide or para is doing each day, that should be your starting point. Read the IEP and see what’s in there.

When your child needs 1:1 for Behaviors

Here are some tips for doing this at home.

  1. Read and re-read your child’s IEP and Behavior plan. You’re going to have to do the best you can with what you have.
  2. Ask for a Zoom meeting or phone call with your teacher or behavior support person. Ask what the reinforcement system looks like at school and try to replicate at home. Are they using a token board, a first/then system, etc and try to recreate it at home.
  3. Whatever you decide to use, don’t try to use it all day. Only use it when you really need it.
  4. Prioritize. Maybe learning new things isn’t possible right now and focusing on maintaining skills and behaviors is what you need to do.
  5. Ask your team for a quick lesson on reinforcers and prompts, if that is what your child was using. Your team is at home, as you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
  6. If you’re working on maintaining rather than gaining new skills, your child is less likely to give you a lot of resistance or pushback. For kids who usually do this when being challenged or pushed out of their comfort zone, maintenance is your priority.
  7. Ask for some skill tracking sheets and mastered targets. Look for ways you can generalize that around the house. Look for ways that your child can master skills in new ways.
  8. Learn as much as you can about documenting regression. Stay apprised of what your state is recommending for comp ed or remediation.
  9. Visit PsychCentral for more assistance on at home ABA.

If your child had a 1:1 for reteaching:

Again, use your child’s IEP as your starting point. See what that defines as far as the supports your child receives.

  1. Ask for a Zoom meeting or phone call to learn what is going on. Replicate it the best you can. Be easy on yourself.
  2. Make maintenance your priority, if you are time-limited or have other limitations.
  3. Ask what curriculum they are using and read up on it as much as you can online. Many sites offer free webinars.
  4. Even if you think online learning won’t work, try it. Your child may surprise you (mine did!).
  5. Pace yourself, prioritize and do your best. Know your limits and your child’s limits.
  6. Learn as much as you can about documenting regression. Stay apprised of what your state is recommending for comp ed or remediation.

Availability of Online Services

If your school is not providing online services or any services, make sure you track what your child is missing. See if your insurance will cover virtual visits during this time. Some organizations, like the one that governs speech therapists, have guidelines and expectations as far as providing online services.

I’m a firm believer in living with the mantra “Focus on what you can control.” I cannot control this virus, what my Governor does, or the ability to bring my son’s team into my home. But, I can read and follow his IEP and BIP to the best of my abilities. I can document regression and read up on what schools are obligated to provide and prepare for asking for remediation or comp ed. And, I can provide him other opportunities that he may not get at school.

Most importantly, I can keep my family safe, healthy and happy. We’re all in this together. There are literally millions upon millions of parents sharing these same concerns.

Here is the guidance from the Dept of Ed.

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